The Health Ministry has published a list of dos and don'ts that urban local bodies can use to contain the coronavirus spread in "informal settlements" in the cities. These localities that are often overcrowded with many people crammed into small living spaces are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 and accelerating its spread.
"A substantial percentage of this population is migrant workers employed in industrial and other informal sector. These areas are characterised by poor structural quality of housing, inadequate access to safe water, poor sanitation and insecure residential status. There are gaps in health and healthcare services," the Health Ministry said in the document.
To effectively handle the pandemic at these areas, the Health Ministry said an "incident commander" would be identified to handle "planning, operation, logistics and finance teams" that will work on measures to contain the coronavirus. "The Incident Commander shall report to the Municipal Commissioner," the Health Ministry said.
"In most of the cities/towns the disease surveillance system is not as well organised as in the rural areas. This is more so pronounced in these urban settlements. Hence the surveillance system shall be strengthened for contact-tracing mechanism. This would include identification of health workers in the health posts/dispensaries... The trained workforce available on covidwarriors.gov.in will be contacted for their readiness to deploy in a short notice," the Health Ministry said.
.@MoHFW_INDIA releases detailed guidelines for preparedness and response to #COVID19 in Urban areas; document charts out surveillance, containment, clinical management measures among others for densely populated urban settlements— PIB India #StayHome #StaySafe (@PIB_India) May 16, 2020
Read the document https://t.co/sV9JehMPC6
"There may not be community-level structures in these areas that can be transformed into designated health facilities (COVID-19 care centres), hence the existing facilities identified by the urban local body near these settlements shall be earmarked as COVID-19 care centres..." the Health Ministry said.
It said ambulances to be parked within or at the perimeter of these localities will be identified and a toll-free number will be widely shared.
"The high-risk population as per clinical assessment and feasibility of effective home quarantine, if need be, can be shifted to institutional quarantine so as to have focused management of such cases as it may have an impact on mortality," the Health Ministry said.
India reported 3,970 new coronavirus cases and 103 deaths linked to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 85,940 cases, a day after the country surpassed the virus tally of China where the pandemic originated in December. India is now is ranked 11th in the world in terms of coronavirus cases. The country's recovery rate - the number of patients who have successfully fought off the illness - stood at 35.08 per cent this morning.
More than 30,000 COVID-19 patients have recovered so far. The fatality rate is significantly better than China's at 3.2 per cent compared to 5.5 per cent.